Colombian police arrested seven traffickers accused of recruiting at least 30 victims. Poor and vulnerable women were sent to work in Guangdong nightclubs with offers of well-paid modelling jobs.
Bogota (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Colombian police broke up a sex trafficking ring that recruited young women in Colombia and forced them into prostitution in China.
Seven accused traffickers were taken into custody and charged with luring and sexually exploiting at least 30 Colombian women and migrants who were sent to work in nightclubs in the Chinese province of Guangdong.
Colombian authorities reported that the victims were poor and vulnerable women. They were recruited via social media and WhatsApp messaging with offers of well-paid work as models in China by traffickers who staged fake photo shoots in Colombia before sending them abroad, authorities said.
At these places, the young women were allegedly held against their will,” Colombia’s attorney general’s office said in a statement. “Their passports and personal documents were taken away.”
The traffickers imposed debts on them of US$ 14,000, which they were forced to pay off by making US$ 600 a day in sex work, the top prosecutor said.
Five of those arrested were women who organised travel and visas for the victims who passed through Madrid and Amsterdam before they reached Beijing.
In Latin America, the sexual exploitation of women and girls remains the most common form of human trafficking.
Whilst most of the victims in Latin America are trafficked within the region, this case points to China as the primary destination for Colombian women forced abroad.
In a similar case in 2017, Colombian authorities broke up a criminal ring that trafficked about 150 women forced into prostitution in China. The group also used phoney job offers and made the women pay off higher debts of US$ 25,000 each.
Under Colombia’s anti-human trafficking law, convicted traffickers can be jailed for up to 23 years.
Last year, Colombian authorities convicted 19 human traffickers, down from 26 in 2018, the US State Department reported.